Gospel Reflection for January 12, 2019, Baptism of the Lord

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 42.1-4, 6-7; Acts 10.34-38; Matthew 3.13-17

Jesus appeared before John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John resisted, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and you come to me?” “Let it be this way for now. It is fitting to fulfill all God’s demands,” Jesus said.

After Jesus had been baptized and came out of the water, suddenly the sky opened and he saw the Spirit of God descend like dove and hover over him. With that a voice from the heavens spoke, “This is my beloved Son. My favor rests on him” (Matthew 3.13-17).

As the Church celebrates Jesus’ baptism this Sunday, the gospel invites us to share the surprise and resistance of John, his baptizer. The encounter between Jesus and John challenges us to allow the real Jesus to confuse and confound us as he does John, to turn our expectations inside out and backwards.

The world-judging messiah John expects casts no chaff into the fire but makes himself one with sinners who seek to reform their lives. The one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire seeks the baptism of water and reform. Instead at his baptism, the Holy Spirit commissions Jesus for a public ministry characterized by humility and compassionate justice.

What is the public purpose of your adulthood? For what purpose does God’s favor rest on you?